Mosquito biting skin

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Why do mosquito bites itch?

One of the things that everyone seems to know about mosquito bites is that they itch. While mosquitoes are a concern for the diseases they can potentially spread to people, the most commonly referenced symptoms of mosquito bites is itchiness. The red bumps or welts mosquitoes leave behind after they feed are notorious for being very itchy. So why do mosquito bites itch?

How mosquitoes feed

It's important to understand how mosquitoes feed and how their mouths work. Mosquitoes have what is known as a proboscis, which is a mouth composed of several parts that come together to form a kind of needle or small tube. The mosquito has methods of finding a blood vessel beneath the skin and then uses that proboscis to pierce the skin and get down to the blood rushing through the blood vessel.

Once the mosquito has inserted the proboscis, it needs a few things. First, it wants to be sure that the person upon whom they are feeding is not disturbed so that they swat the mosquito away. Second, it wants to make sure a free flow of blood can rush from the small wound and into the mosquito's stomach.

To feed successfully a mosquito does two things:

  1. Inject a natural anesthetic that allows them to insert the needle without the person being bit feeling it. Most people don’t realize they've been fed upon until it starts itching and that bump appears.
  2. Inject an anticoagulant that prevents the blood from clotting immediately and allows it to rush out of the wound and into the mosquito. The two chemicals are part of the insect's saliva.

Allergic reactions to mosquito bites

The itching that comes with mosquito bites is from that saliva. When the substance is injected into a person, the body reacts from it and it does so negatively. Given the foreign nature of the substance, a human being’s body has an allergic reaction to it. That’s what causes the reaction.

As for what causes that bump? That's part of the allergic reaction, too. The blood vessels, once irritated, begin to swell. Once the bump starts, it tickles more nerve endings around it, which causes more itching. The more it is scratched, the bigger the bump gets.

Don't scratch mosquito bites

Most people have probably heard that you should not scratch mosquito bites. This is actually true. The more that you scratch, the more you irritate the nerve endings and the more it will actually itch. Although the hole that the mosquito makes with is proboscis is very small, it's just big enough that bacteria on your fingers or under your fingernails could enter and cause an additional infection.

If the itching is unbearable, there are over the counter antihistamines and ointments that can be used. If you seem to be prone to getting bitten by mosquitoes, use mosquito repellents or consult your physician for safe ways to treat the bites.

Of course, if you have mosquito issues, you can also contact the experts at Ehrlich who can provide a reliable solution for your property. Use our online form or call us at 1-800-837-5520.

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